Last week, several outlets (including The Daily Wire) reported that Democrats in Minnesota are considering recruiting a primary challenger to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), even though she’s only been in office three months. This week, CNN added to the rumor mill, reporting that Omar’s constituents — even those who share her background and her faith — are uneasy with Omar’s rhetoric and may be open to considering other options.
The Hill kicked off reports last week that Minnesota Democrats were seeking a primary challenger for Omar, particularly local Jewish Democrats who have been shocked and offended by Omar’s blatantly anti-Semitic comments since assuming office, accusing her colleagues and others of having “dual loyalty” to both the United States and Israel — an anti-Semitic smear — and accusing American politicians of getting rich taking money from pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC.
“There’s definitely some buzz going around about it, but it’s more a buzz of is anyone talking about finding someone to run against her than it is anyone saying they’re going to run against her or contemplate it. There’s definitely talk about people wanting someone to run against her,” a state senator in Omar’s home district told the Washington, D.C.-based outlet.
Over the weekend, the news seemed to hit home with Omar. President Donald Trump retweeted a story about Omar’s political troubles, and Omar responded by accusing the president of trying to undermine her presence in Congress, even though her real trouble is with her own party.
“You can’t Muslim ban us from Congress!” the Minnesota freshman tweeted.
But if CNN — hardly a right-leaning publication — is to be believed, it isn’t just fellow politicians who are growing tired of Omar’s public cause against the right of Israel to exist. Her constituents — including Somali and Muslim constituents — aren’t happy with how Omar has handled her first few weeks in public office.
“When David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan agrees with you,” Mohamed Ahmed, one of Omar’s constituents, told the network, “you’re not doing something right.”
The four constitutents interviewed by CNN also agreed with moderate Democrats and Republicans who qualified Omar’s statements about “dual loyalty” and AIPAC as hateful toward the Jewish people — not mere criticism of Israel itself, or “Zionism.”
“Omar Jamal, Steve Hunegs, Mohamed Ahmed and Avi Olitzky agree on the characterization of language Omar used. When Omar talked about Israel ‘hypnotizing’ the world, they said it was anti-Semitic,” CNN reported. “And when she questioned whether American lawmakers and lobbyists had loyalty to Israel, they said it was anti-Semitic. Local leaders want her to understand why her words were causing so much pain.”
“(When you are elected,) you’re supposed to bring people together, you’re supposed to create a sense of unity instead of farther dividing them and pitting one group against the other,” Jamal said in the interview.
“I speak as a friend of Israel and a brother to the Palestinians by faith,” Jamal continued. “We believe in Palestinian rights and freedoms, but we will not do it denigrating our Jewish community.”
That’s bad news for Omar, who seemed like a “safe” Democrat — she was elected from a very safe, “progressive” district by a comfortable 3-to-1 margin over her closest opponent. But if both Democrats and her constituents are considering abandoning her for a more rational candidate, that could spell trouble for candidates from even the most stable, reliable districts.
Concern within the Omar camp is evident. Likely on the advice of top Democrats, Omar published an op-ed in The Washington Post over the weekend, attempting to clarify her overall vision for foreign policy. In it, she claims to support a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and assures leftists that she’s just very concerned about the well-being of Palestinians — something that she believes can give way to honest criticism of Israeli policies — and that’s what underlies her strong language.
“My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution. We need to reinsert this call back into the public debate with urgency. Both parties must come to the table for a final peace deal; violence will not bring us any closer to that day,” she wrote.
The problem is, of course, that her lengthy Washington Post article doesn’t seem to match up with her public platform. Omar has been vocal about her support for the anti-Semitic “Boycott-Divest-Sanction” movement, which calls for the abject destruction of the State of Israel and denies Israel’s right to exist, both on its own and as part of a so-called “two-state solution.”